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TX: Feds bust cops in south Texas drug task force investigation

By   /   December 13, 2012  /   News  /   3 Comments

By Mark Lisheron | Texas Watchdog

CORRUPT COPS: Officers on a drug task force, including the son of the Hidalgo Co. sheriff, are suspected of stealing drugs from the criminals they were supposed to be policing.

AUSTIN — The police officer sons of two south Texas law enforcement chiefs who made fighting corruption the cornerstones of their careers have been taken into custody on suspicion of waylaying drug caches coming across the border from Mexico.

Federal agents investigating several border departments west and south of McAllen arrested Jonathan Treviño, the son of  Lupe Treviño, sheriff of Hidalgo County, and Alexis Espinoza, the son of Rodolfo Espinoza, Hidalgo’s police chief, the McAllen Monitor is reporting.

Agents also took into federal custody another pair of officers whom they didn’t identify, and at least three more arrest warrants were outstanding. Sources told the newspaper that two Hidalgo County Sheriff’s narcotics deputies are among those named in the warrants.

Warrants and related documents had not been filed by late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in McAllen. Federal investigators declined to discuss the investigation.

The probe, however, centers on the so-called Panama Unit, a joint drug task force made up of Hidalgo County and Mission officers. Treviño and Espinoza are members of the unit.

“It’s just going to get real, real nasty, real, real quick,” an anonymous local investigator told the newspaper.

Sources told the newspaper the combination of authority and the absence of supervision had a way of making the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics disappear, particularly for Treviño, who “has gone unsupervised since the get-go.”

“With all the problems he’s had,” the source said, “they should have kicked Jonathan out years ago.”

“Everybody knew that kid was dirty,” the newspaper quoted another investigator as saying. “It was just a matter of making a case.

Voters in Hidalgo County in November gave Treviño’s father a landslide third-term victory. Since his election in 2004, Treviño has promised to get on top of corruption in the county and secure the border.

In October, Mission hired Espinoza away from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department. A captain, Espinoza taught law enforcement ethics to deputies and headed special units for the department.

Contact Mark Lisheron at [email protected] or 512-299-2318 or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.


Mark Lisheron was a former Austin-based reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • As long as our government underwrites the huge profits of the drug cartels the corruption of our society and law enforcement will increase. Until we take control of the drug market and remove the cash from criminals hands they can buy the equipment and corruption required for them to outrun and outgun the Mexican and American forces in Mexico.

    The false claims that they would resort to violent crimes to replace their income is ludicrous,,violent crimes leave evidence,witnesses and complainants ,,drug dealing leaves no such trail for law enforcement to follow,if everything goes right.

  • malcolmkyle

    Here is part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings of 1926:

    “It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law.”

    The second biggest business during prohibition in Detroit was liquor at $215 million a year and employing about 50,000 people. Authorities were not only helpless to stop it, many were part of the problem. During one raid the state police arrested Detroit Mayor John Smith, Michigan Congressman Robert Clancy and Sheriff Edward Stein.

  • Thinking Clearly

    Prohibition of marijuana by the Federal Government is a source of crime, and it must end. No one wants crime, and a majority wants this prohibition to cease.

    End the Federal prohibition against marijuana.